Custom Fit

Unique implants an option when traditional implants are not.

Long Island, New York native Margaret “Peg” Capalongo, 65, resided in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for ten years before relocating to Florida with her husband in 1999. The move south was prompted by a lucrative job offer for Peg, whose husband was on board as long as he could live near an international airport because his job requires extensive travel.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Peg Capalongo & Ahyse

“The job I moved for was in the chiropractic industry, but I’m now a certified, registered HIT, which stands for healthcare information technologist,” Peg explains. “I’m a supervisor for an organization called Ciox Health. We work for a local hospital system.

“An HIT’s job is to manage the release of patient information to outside entities such as insurance companies and attorneys. We answer subpoenas and provide medical records to patients. We are legally responsible for protecting patients’ sensitive medical information.”

“I was still working in the chiropractic field when I started looking at other careers. There was an opportunity to get into health care, so I went back to school and got my degree in health information management. I then became certified by the state in health information technology, and I’ve never looked back.”

One thing Peg has had no choice but to look back on is a lifelong dental issue. Her struggles stem from a condition called hypodontia in which an absence of primordial tissue prevents one or more teeth from developing.

“Because of this condition, I’ve worn some type of prosthetic device in my mouth since I was thirteen years old,” Peg explains. “In the beginning, the dentist replaced the teeth I lost with partial dentures. Over time, though, my jawbone began to deteriorate because there were no teeth in it. I ended up with full dentures, including a lower denture that didn’t sit well in my mouth because my jaw was flat. There was nothing to hold the denture in place.”

The loose lower denture affected Peg’s chewing ability. She was also reluctant to smile wide for fear the denture would visibly move in her mouth.

“I wasn’t able to eat anything that required a lot of chewing for two reasons,” Peg states. “One is because the denture just didn’t stay put in my mouth. I used a lot of denture glue to keep it in place for aesthetic reasons, but I couldn’t eat with it.

“The other reason I ate soft foods for the past few years was because my dentist was concerned that I might crack my jaw. That would require surgery to put it back together, then they would have to wire my jaw shut. I didn’t want to go there.

“And I had to be really careful when I smiled. I couldn’t show a really big smile or laugh really hard because my denture would fall out.”

Saddle Up

In an effort to support her loose lower denture, Peg tried traditional dental implants, but they failed because the bone mass in her jaw was insufficient. Peg then visited Michael A. Pikos, DDS, seeking a solution to her dilemma.

Before and after images courtesy of Coastal Jaw Surgery.

Before and After

Dr. Pikos is the founder of Coastal Jaw Surgery, a multi-specialty dental practice that has several locations throughout Tampa Bay. Dr. Pikos is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has extensive expertise in dental implants.

In treating Peg, Dr. Pikos worked closely with Coastal Jaw Surgery’s prosthodontist Philip J. Hedger, DMD, a specialist in dental prosthetics. Dr. Pikos and Dr. Hedger used a customized type of dental implant called a subperiosteal implant to correct Peg’s problem.

“We are the only practice in the greater Tampa Bay area that offers this implant,” Dr. Hedger notes. “Placing subperiosteal implants is an advanced procedure, and only specially trained surgeons can perform it.”

Subperiosteal implants are generally used when a patient is told their jawbone is not wide enough or tall enough to support traditional dental implants. That is common with patients who’ve worn dentures for many years. But unlike traditional dental implants, subperiosteal implants are not surgically placed into the jawbone. Instead, they rest on top of the bone.

“Initially, we take a three-dimensional CT scan and make a printed model of the shape of the patient’s jawbone,” Dr. Hedger describes. “From that model, we create a customized implant that straddles the bone, much like a saddle on a horse.

“Dr. Hedger is very creative, like an artist, He looked at my facial structure and designed teeth that look so natural, most people don’t know I wear them.” – Peg

“Each subperiosteal implant is patient specific. It is such a precise fit that they can only be used for that patient. The implant snaps into place engaging undercuts in the bone. There are also tiny fixation screws to tack it into place and provide extra support.

“The process of securing a lower denture and thereby restoring a smile using subperiosteal implants is not very well-known, but it can be life-changing for the patient.”

Subperiosteal implants are used to secure lower teeth only, Dr. Hedger clarifies. However, there’s a different procedure that can be performed for the upper arch, which Coastal Jaw Surgery also provides.

“With our advanced training, the specialists at Coastal Jaw Surgery can offer these innovative options to patients who were told by other dentists that they were not candidates for dental implants,” he observes. “To denture patients who think there is no hope, we say, There are options for you. You can improve your quality of life!”

Safe and Successful

Peg experienced an improvement in her quality of life after receiving subperiosteal implants and new teeth from Coastal Jaw Surgery.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

A unique implant treatment has put a smile back on Peg’s face.

“The teeth that were created for me and that I have now are gorgeous,” Peg reports. “I’m extremely happy with them.”

Peg is thrilled with the appearance of the teeth she received following her subperiosteal implant procedure. She credits Dr. Hedger for doing a “great job.”

“Dr. Hedger is very creative, like an artist,” Peg describes. “He looked at my facial structure and designed teeth that look so natural, most people don’t know I wear them. I’m amazed by how he made them look so good.

“The staff at Coastal Jaw Surgery gave me a post-surgery treatment program that was all-natural homeopathic medicines, so I didn’t have to take any major drugs. It’s amazing to me how forward-thinking they are to actually embrace homeopathic remedies.”

To Peg, getting the implant was an amazing experience, even though it required a major procedure. She’s happy she had the work completed at Coastal Jaw Surgery.

“I had been working with Dr. Pikos on and off for about six years trying to determine what to do about my problem and how to fix it,” Peg relates. “Then last year, Dr. Pikos and Dr. Hedger suggested utilizing a subperiosteal implant as a solution to my problem.

“It took some surgery by Dr. Pikos to prepare my jaw for the unique implants, and Dr. Hedger designed the teeth that go on top of the implants. I worked with Dr. Hedger to get the teeth just right, but we did it.

“Having a team such as Dr. Pikos, Dr. Hedger and all of the assistants and staff at Coastal Jaw Surgery made the process a lot easier to go through. They made me feel very comfortable. The entire process has been fascinating, and I feel good now. I don’t know that I would trust any other team to do the work for me.

“I also like that the staff at Coastal Jaw Surgery didn’t just look at my mouth. They looked at me as a person and took my whole body into consideration. I’m a type one diabetic, and they did whatever was necessary to make the process safe and successful for me, and they did a wonderful job!”

Print This Article
    • Coastal Jaw Surgery

      With more than 30 years of extensive experience, their mission at Coastal Jaw Surgery is to provide excellent surgical care for their patients in a safe, efficient and compassionate manner. Their team of oral surgeons is unmatched in ex... Read More

    • Philip J. Hedger, DMD, MS

      Philip J. Hedger, DMD, MS, earned his undergraduate degree in nutrition from the University of Florida. He received his dental doctorate from the University of Florida College of Dentistry. Dr. Hedger then completed an advanced pros... Read More